Skip to Content

As a result of the current Federal government funding situation, the information on this website may not be up to date or acted upon.

The NIH Clinical Center (the research hospital of NIH) is open. For more details about its operating status, please visit

Updates regarding government operating status and resumption of normal operations can be found at

Discovering the causes of cancer and the means of prevention

Publications Search - Abstract View

Title: Invited Commentary: Evidence-based Evaluation of p Values and Bayes Factors
Authors: Katki HA
Journal: Am J Epidemiol
Date: 2008 Aug 15
Branches: BB
PubMed ID:
PMC ID: not available
Abstract: Despite clear deficiencies of the p value as a summary of statistical evidence, compelling alternatives with strong theoretical justification, such as the Bayes factor and the related likelihood ratio, are rarely presented in epidemiologic publications. Comparison of the historical performance of the p value with that of its competitors in the epidemiologic literature may help epidemiologists evaluate whether Bayes factors or likelihood ratios lead to conclusions more quickly and reliably than a p value, given the same data. Empirical evidence presented by Ioannidis (Am J Epidemiol 2008;168:37483) demonstrates that findings with p values near 0.05 tend not to be confirmed in future studies. Similarly, Bayes factors interpret p values near 0.05 as having, at best, promising evidence against the null hypothesis. However, the different types of Bayes factors require empirical evaluation of their performance in practice. P values remain popular because miniscule p values are unlikely to mislead and p values do not require alternative hypotheses. Publishing p values near 0.05 could be considered a low-threshold screen to allow many (possibly null) results to be published for follow-up consideration. Meta-analyses and studies meant to decisively convince skeptics require a stronger standard (p values much below 0.05) and a Bayes factor to interpret the p value and to facilitate incorporation of background expertise necessary for drawing comprehensive conclusions.